Monday, August 24, 2009


The idea of who the pastor is has been a long running discussion between brothers for some time now. I is a subject near and dear to my heart as I am sure you have become aware by now. On another blog run by a dear brother I have debated this subject any number of times some serious things were said I would like to address. You can also visit his blog, which is very good by the way, for the full discussion at

Now Tim and I will probably never agree on many of the topics we will discuss here and I attribute this to his youth (just kidding). Clearly neither of us is alone in our respective camps and I cherish the privilege to discuss and even debate since he is always civil and that is how these types of discussions are to take place.

Tim’s latest blog dated August 2 is titled "Pastorized". In it he makes a few comments I would like to address. The first is that there seems to him to be a distinction between Pastor and Elder, in which he states that an elder is a pastor but a pastor does not necessarily have to be an elder. I strongly disagree since the word pastor (poimen) in scripture is only attributed to the office of elder and no one else in a formal way. Like all Christians are commanded to share their faith, not all Christians are evangelists as to the office. So too some may care for others but this does not necessarily make them pastors in the official sense.

He also says that elder can be considered modern day apostles (not the 12). This flies in the face of what the word apostle actually means or is interpreted as. The word apostolos means one sent and would better refer to a church planter, missionary or traveling evangelist since they are in fact sent. But an elder is a located leader within a local assembly. As to the word Poimen and his view, Tim references the Latin, which we all know was not the language of the New Testament. It was the official language of Rome and the scriptures were later translated into Latin by Jerome for use in the Roman Catholic church. Poimen is the Greek word the Holy Spirit choose when he inspired Paul in Acts 20 to describe the ministry of the elders in Ephesus. Tim says this "Well, the root concept is from Greek, poimen as already stated. But the actual word we use is Latin. Both mean "to shepherd". I would imagine that this is a play on words. Christians are the sheep of His (Christ) pasture. Peter was told to feed His sheep or in other words, be a shepherd- hence pastor, a spiritual leader."

Sorry but the actual word we use is not Latin. In fact in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the word Poimen is used some 27 times concerning shepherds and that was written about the 3rd century BC. The example of Peter is perfect although applied incorrectly here. Peter was in fact told to feed and acre for the sheep and this is the perfect example of Pastoring or shepherding. It also was writte in Greek and not Latin.

He also seems not to have any difficulty with the office of lead, or chief or head pastor depending on which response you happen to read. He says this "Biblically speaking there is no such thing as a head pastor. That doesn't mean you can't have one but by all means scripture does not say anything about it. However, there are specific people who stand out and lead over others, e.g., Aaron over the Levites, but that may be a different topic. The problem is churches hire people to be "senior pastor" and think that it has to be that way, when it doesn't." I think this ignores that the elders authority is not in their individuality but rather in their plurality. In others words the authority is in the office and not the individual elder or pastor.

One of the more serious statements made was this:
The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.
Somehow the words pastor and elder became interchangeable and that would not be accurate. That is not what this passage is saying. It is saying that some pastors will come from the eldership. Not all elders preach. But one who does preaching is especially worthy of a high honor.

Notice the wording here. The Elder who is worthy of double honor is the one who directs the affairs or more literal "rules well" the church, agreeing with Paul’s words in Acts 20 that the elder is an episkopos or overseer. This title was one attributed to local officials who administered authority over a city or district. Doing this well is worthy of double honor. Paul then say "especially those who preach and teach"? But that is not what Paul says. He says those who work hard at preaching and teaching. All elders are to preach and teach. This is the feeding process we see in the shepherding office. But there are those who especially work hard or labor hard at the ministry of preaching and teaching and these should be singled out for their labors. It does not mean that there should ever be elders who either can’t or don’t or won’t preach and teach. It is my opinion that much of the nonsense that has entered the church, entered because too many elders surrendered this great privilege.

Finally we have this
"So in essence the pastor needs to be a spiritual example that leads with compassion, understanding and knowledge. He needs to be tough yet gentle in his ways. The ego needs to be checked yet the vision needs to be explored. He is not an automatic elder but can be one. He does not have to come from a Bible Seminary but has to be God-lead. He is a spiritual leader but not the spiritual leader."

The problem with this is clear. It implies another person other then the elder we do not see in Gods word. It implies a man we have no qualifications for. It implies that Paul’s habit of appointing elders in every church and city may have been inadequate. Paul’s final words in Acts 20 to the church elders he not only mentored and ordained but within a church he spent the longest time with are worthy of deeper study. He mentions no other spiritual leaders in the church. he mentions no other defenders of the word. and he mentions no other office except the one he felt so strongly about he made sure every church was equipped with qualified men called Elder/Pastors.


1 comment:

  1. Tim on his blog made a very interesting observation. It seems that the man who preaches on Sunday is viewed as the senior leader by the flock. While I am a big fan of preaching this is not the only gift leaders and servants have. Just as Paul warned against elevating one gift over the other, we must never fall into the trap of elevating on elder over another just because he is more visible.

    Recently I was hospitolized for a hip replacement. curiously a family I would not have expected called me every day and visited me quite regularly (once with junk food which was greatly appreciated). this is not a very visible family from a human standpoint. No one probably knows they even do this (which I understand they do regularly for our ill congregants). SO we must never judge people by their up front positions. They serve the Lord and may do it quite secretly and without fan fare. Bless them all